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Information Blizzard December 18, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Information.
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EPIC   I stumbled across the transcript to a brief movie on the future of the media by Robin Sloan. In the movie, information and news is gathered electronically through a wide range of sources from formal news outlets to blogs and even phone cameras. The huge collection of data is organized and filtered by companies with the necessary electronic tools to perform such an undertaking. Companies like Google and Amazon, which later merge to form Googlezon in the movie, gradually begin to replace traditional news gathering and reporting organizations. The result of the merge is EPIC, the ‘Evolving Personalized Information Construct.’ Individuals subscribe to many editors that mix and match the information they receive based upon their interests, available time, and the whim of the editors who prioritize, sort, and connect the information for consumers. 

Ms. Frizzle, one of my favorite teacher bloggers, wrote in response: 

At what time in history have most people ever been well-informed? I think in previous centuries most people’s knowledge was highly local – which neighbor goes to church, which one doesn’t, whose cows keep trampling someone else’s pasture (or the common, for that matter). Nowadays, we have access to a lot more information from all over the place thanks to the internet, but our knowledge is still localized around our interests and the groups we identify as part of – so I read ed blogs and the NY Times on-line, while others read fanfic and their local news, or sports and conservative blogs, or whatever. 

David Warlick, a deep and profound thinker about technology, wrote: 

We need to be teaching students how to use (find, evaluate, select, add value to, and communicate) information RESPONSIBLY as citizens in a democratic, economic, and culture-rich society. It’s an ethical imperative. 

Warlick suggests that information today is digital, networked, overwhelming, and beyond a container. I have thought often about the first three elements, but the fourth aspect is the one that is most intriguing. The implication that there may no longer be a need for a gatekeeper such as a news outlet, an academic institution, or pundits suggests that we should be more aware of how we are both consuming and producing news. Warlick suggests it is ethics and I suppose I can accept that. There is more to it though and perhaps it is that we need a set of core beliefs to help us maneuver through the flood of information. 

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